A marketing gesture aimed at giving the NFL an international flavor left more than a few fans confused — and some unhappy — this weekend.
“Is it European awareness month or something like that?” one fan tweeted Sunday in response to seeing flags of various nations alongside the American flag on the helmets of NFL players.
Nope. It was, according to KNBC-TV, a gesture that fits with the NFL’s hopes of growing a global fan base.
The league put a different gloss on it, saying in a news release Wednesday that the decals were designed to “celebrate the growing number of nationalities and cultures that make up the fabric of the League.”
Last week, the NFL published a list of more than 200 players, coaches and executives who were participating — with some wearing the flags of communist China and Cuba.
The league said a player must have lived in the nation whose flag he wanted to wear for two or more years or have a parent or grandparent born there.
But many fans were not clued in.
Why are #NFL coaches wearing flags of other countries?
— General Ripper (@DrMaturin1802) October 2, 2022
Why are NFL coaches wearing random European country flags? Is it European awareness month or something like that?
— AScott (@OrlMagicMan) October 2, 2022
— 🇺🇦 Mel Avanzado 🇺🇦 (@BruinMel) October 2, 2022
Only one flag should be worn. The American 🇺🇸! You don’t see other countries symbolizing us. We are a country too
— JP (@JPGunny) September 29, 2022
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray wore a South Korean flag in honor of his mom, Missy, the NFL said.
“I’m proud to play with the flag of South Korea on my helmet. It’s a great way to honor my mom, honor my heritage and highlight the diverse backgrounds that make up the NFL,” he said.
Britain Covey of the Philadelphia Eagles had the flag of Chile on his helmet. The wide receiver spent two years there on a mission for the Mormon church, according to KNBC.
“I am proud to represent my heritage with the Samoan flag on my helmet,” he said in the news release last week.
“My family and my culture are very important to me,” Tagovailoa said. “Our name means everything, and it’s an honor to be able to represent not only my family’s name but also my Samoan heritage as an NFL player.
“I hope that in doing so, I can encourage kids from the islands to keep pursuing their dreams and to also be proud of their culture and where they’ve come from.”
Two players wore the Cuban flag: New Orleans Saints wide receiver Chris Olave and Carolina Panthers kicker Eddy Piñeiro.
Noticed the Cuban flag on the back of Chris Olave’s helmet, and just realized he’s part-Cuban, on his father’s side. Cool.
— David Furones (@DavidFurones_) October 2, 2022
Los Angeles Rams Taylor Rapp will wear the flag of China during Monday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers. His mother is from Shanghai.
KNBC noted that of all the countries represented, Nigeria came out on top of the more than 50 nations or territories represented, with 56 players wearing its flag.
The flag decals will be worn again next week as well.
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